There is a plethora of great DC Comics content available on HBO Max, but if you are a superhero fan, you can’t do any better than “Doom Patrol,” a twisted, funny, and at times heartbreaking ensemble show that features DC universe characters you may not yet be familiar with.
1. The Creators
“Doom Patrol” has an impressive pedigree. Creator Jeremy Carver is a writer and producer who has worked on “Supernatural,” “Being Human,” and “Frequency.” His fellow executive producers are also DC Comics TV shows heavy hitters — Greg Berlanti, Geoff Johns, and Sarah Schechter.
At the 2019 Television Critics Association winter press tour, Schechter praised Carver’s unique voice that makes “Doom Patrol” so special: “DC and Warner Brothers have been incredibly supportive. I think what’s great about comic books is the variety of stories being told. They were really supportive and Greg and I were so fortunate to find Jeremy and trick him into doing this. Because his voice is so special and what he’s brought to it,” said Schechter, adding, “Ultimately, any show that works for any audience is because there’s some emotional truth there and I think there’s a lot of emotional truth here. I think there’s emotional truth on the other shows but it’s a menu, people can choose different things. I think that this show is really sophisticated, smart, nuanced, and dark, and it’s really fun to do it, and it’s just a reflection of the source material. And, of the creator’s voice.”
2. The Cast
Diane Guerrero shines brightly in “Doom Patrol.” She was previously part of the “Orange Is the New Black” ensemble, but in this DC Comics show, she really gets to take center stage as the three distinct personalities of Kay Challis. During the 2019 Television Critics Association winter press tour, Guerrero told critics that she feels like she “finally found” herself in this role.
“It’s a dream come true, I couldn’t believe it. … I was just hungry for a part like this, and when I first saw the material I didn’t know anything about the comic book, and they didn’t give me much information, but I just saw how complex and dynamic this role was, and I really wanted to challenge myself and believe me, this show has challenged me,” said Guerrero.
3. The Characters
The titular Doom Patrol is a group of superhero misfits who have gotten their powers through some sort of tragic circumstance or another.
The main character on the show is Kay Challis/”Crazy Jane” (Guerrero). Jane is Kay’s dominant persona — the leader of 64 distinct personalities she obtained as a result of childhood trauma borne from the scientific experiments she was forced into. What makes this exploration of multiple identities especially interesting is that Guerrero plays Jane and two other personalities, but 10 other actors play distinct Challis personalities, each with their own superpower. It really opens up the show to endless possibilities with the character.
Supporting Challis in her crimefighting is Rita Farr (Bowlby), a former actress who has become a shapeshifter; Larry Trainor (Bomer and Zuk), a disfigured former Air Force pilot; Cliff Steele (Fraser and Shanahan), a former NASCAR driver who is now a robot; the Chief (Dalton), a doctor who lets the Doom Patrol live in his mansion, though he was responsible for the events that led to the Doom Patrol developing their superpowers in the first place; and Cyborg (Wade), a superhero with cybernetic enhancements.
The main villain of the show is Mr. Nobody (Tudyk), a supervillain who can travel through space, time, and other dimensions.
4. The DC Comics Universe
Because “Doom Patrol” is a spin-off from another DC Comics original series, “Titans”, both shows focus on some of the more obscure characters from the DC Comics pantheon.
“Titans” is a live-action show that follows the “Teen Titans,” a group of superheroes you may know from their Cartoon Network show. In the first season of “Titans,” the creators introduced some of the “Doom Patrol” characters in what executive producer Schechter called “a really fun episode.”
“They’re in the same world,” said creator Carver. “[But] we’re asking fans to come to this version of the show knowing that it is the same world, but it’s a different continuity.”
5. What Critics Are Saying
“Doom Patrol” has been almost universally praised by critics. Vulture’s Angelica Jade Bastien called it “curious, vulgar, and brazenly metafictional as it traverses genres, tones, and styles to tell the story of its eccentric characters who feel less like a traditional superhero group than a family burdened by trauma.”
She also said that what surprised her most about “Doom Patrol” was its heart, showcasing an “emotional depth that the superhero genre rarely does on television.”
Rolling Stone’s Alan Sepinwall called it “refreshingly self-aware” and said that it “seems to understand the same thing that the best — and, not coincidentally, weirdest and funniest — of its CW counterparts, ‘Legends of Tomorrow,‘ figured out a few years back: There is a fundamental absurdity to these stories, and you can (and should) embrace that while still treating your characters and their emotions as real and worth caring about.”
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